31 December 2023

WELCOME 2024

 


Review: THE RAGING STORM, Ann Cleeves

  •  this edition made available by my local library
  • #3 in the Two Rivers series
  • published 2023 Pan Macmillan
  • ISBN 978-1-5290-7770-4
  • 383 pages

Synopsis (publisher)

When Jem Rosco - sailor, adventurer and legend - blows in to the local pub, The Maiden's Prayer, in the middle of an autumn gale, the residents of Greystone are delighted.

The whole place has a strange, unreal quality: the village that time forgot. Backed by a worked-out quarry, with a shingle beach and a north-facing quay, there's little to recommend it to tourists.

When Rosco disappears again, they think nothing of it; that's the sort of man he is. Until the lifeboat is launched to a hoax call-out and his body is found in a dinghy, anchored off Scully Cove, a place with legends of its own.

This is an uncomfortable case for Venn. Greystone is a stronghold of the Barum Brethren and he came here as a child. Faith and superstition mix as another body is found in Scully, and Matthew finds his judgement clouded.

The wind continues to howl, and he realizes that his own life is in danger. 

My Take

The setting is a rather unlovely village in coastal Devon but one which Matthew Venn is familiar with.  The story begins with the arrival of a sailing legend and adventurer cum TV personality who momentarily put the village on the map. But the villagers have mixed feelings about him. Then he disappears and turns up dead and the detectives arrive.

The background, and why anyone would want to murder Jem Rosco takes a lot of discovering. The weather is wild and the going is slow. The village is struggling to survive, but at the same time incomers are treated with suspicion.

Part of the narrative focuses on how anxious the detectives are to please their boss Matthew Venn, and at the same time on the things that niggle them about each other.

I seem to have missed reading THE HERON'S CRY, #2 in this series.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read

30 December 2023

Review: THE CAMDEN MURDER, Mike Hollow

  • This edition read on my Kindle (Amazon)
  • #7 in the Blitz Murder series
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BBZ288RL
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Allison & Busby (December 15, 2022)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 337 pages

Synopsis (publisher)

November 1940. As dawn begins to break, blackout regulations are rendered pointless by a car burning fiercely near the Regent's Canal in Camden Town, north London. In the burnt-out vehicle police find the charred remains of a body. The victim is Les Latham, a commercial traveller for the Baring and Sons confectionery company. He liked to be known as Lucky Les, but it seems his luck has finally run out.

Detective Inspector John Jago discovers a mysterious photograph and some suspicious-looking petrol ration books among Latham's belongings. These lead him off on a murky trail of deceit, corruption and murder. It seems that the Blitz Detective will have to make his own luck to bring to light an unexpected killer.

My Take

Another instalment in this lovely series with John Jago and his offsider Peter Cradock hunting down the person responsible for the death of a commercial traveller.

There are a number of red herrings to be discarded before the truth is finally revealed.

What I love about these books is the feeling of authenticity that comes from solid research and details gleaned from the news of the day. (Who knew that early RAF bombers were sent out with homing pigeons to deliver their location in the case of being shot down; or that Great Britain paid Jamaica NOT to export their banana crop?)

In some ways police procedures have not change in 80 years - fingerprinting, dental records etc - but these crimes are set against the setting and stress of London in 1940, and the characterisation is superb. There are glimpses of what is happening in the rest of the world and how England is surviving as Hitler attempts to cut it off.

You will notice that I've inadvertently skipped reading #6, THE PIMLICO MURDER, but I will remedy that in the New Year.

My rating: 4.5 

I've also read

 

29 December 2023

Review: DECEPTION, Lesley Pearse

Synopsis (publisher)

After the funeral of her mother, Sally, Alice Kent is approached by a man claiming to be her father.

She had accepted Sally's many faults, and her reluctance to ever speak of the past. But faced with this staggering deception, Alice knows she must uncover the whole truth about her mother.

Whatever the cost.

As Alice journeys into the past she discovers her mother may never have been the woman she claimed to be . . .

My Take

Some will point out that this isn't my usual fare of crime fiction, but there are a number of crimes described, and it is based around mystery.

Angus Tweedy's claim to be her father, and to have been gaoled for bigamy with her mother at first upsets Alice Kent, but then sets her off on a quest to learn as much about her mother's life as she can. She tracks down former friends of her mother and manages to piece together answers to many questions.

What Alice finds out is interspersed with a third person narrative which details episodes in her mother's life from when Sally was a small child.

An interesting novel which also reminds us of how the world has changed in the last 80 or so years.I will certainly read more by this author.

My rating: 4.5 

I've also read 4.5, LIAR

28 December 2023

Review: DOGBOY V. CATFISH, Luke Gracias

  • This edition read as an e-book on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0C5M16D1L
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Authors Upfront (17 May 2023)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 247 pages

Synopsis (Amazon)

On the day of her second wedding, Katherine Fisher, aka ‘Catfish,’ set the date for her divorce. In precisely 18 months, she would be entitled to half of their combined assets and receive maintenance payments until her five-year-old daughter, Emma, turns 18. Just as Catfish was about to take her husband, Lindsay ‘Dogboy’ Kramer (a successful businessman and dog whisperer) to the cleaners, he goes missing.

The police investigation into Dogboy’s disappearance leads them into the dark world of counterfeit designer goods, money laundering, and drug smuggling.

With Dogboy’s assets frozen and the mob protecting their interests, the missing persons case escalates to homicide. Catfish is in a race against time to get hold of Dogboy’s assets before the police get hold of her.

One question remains - is Dogboy dead or alive?

My Take

A fascinating tale, told almost in a documentary style.

Katherine Fisher (Catfish) it seems, will do almost anything for money. She sees her husband Lindsay (Dogboy) as a gullible and easy target, but doesn't realise he has realised her intentions, and set his own plans in motion, to ensure that not only is the wealth that she aims to capture is moved out of her reach, but also that the police and the authorities will be able to document what she has been up to.

In the long run Dogboy is able to call on friends that Catfish didn't realise that he had, while her own resources are criminals.

This is a real page turner, unusual format, and unique subject matter.

My rating: 4.7

About the author

Luke Gracias is an Environmental Specialist who has been working part- time in the film industry since 2006. The Codex Gigas or the Devil's Bible is the largest medieval manuscript in the world. It currently resides in the National Library of Sweden. The Codex Gigas has twelve missing pages which are rumoured to contain an apocalyptic test known as the Devil's Prayer.
An avid photographer, Luke travelled through Europe and his home country Australia documenting the 13th Century conspiracy between the Mongols who came to Europe in search of the Devil's Prayer and the Papal Inquisition.  

Review: DROWNING, T. J. Newman

  • This edition made available as an e-book on Libby by my local library
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster (30 May 2023)
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1982177918
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1982177911

Synopsis (publisher)

Flight attendant turned New York Times bestselling author T. J. Newman's adrenaline-fueled thriller about a commercial jetliner that crashes into the ocean and sinks to the bottom with passengers trapped inside--and the extraordinary rescue operation to save them.

Six minutes after takeoff, Flight 1421 crashes into the Pacific Ocean. During the evacuation, an engine explodes and the plane is flooded. Those still alive are forced to close the doors--but it's too late. The plane sinks to the bottom with twelve passengers trapped inside.

More than two hundred feet below the surface, engineer Will Kent and his eleven-year-old daughter Shannon are waist-deep in water and fighting for their lives.

Their only chance at survival is an elite rescue team on the surface led by professional diver Chris Kent--Shannon's mother and Will's soon-to-be ex-wife--who must work together with Will to find a way to save their daughter and rescue the passengers from the sealed airplane, which is now teetering on the edge of an undersea cliff.

There's not much time. There's even less air.

With devastating emotional power and heart-stopping suspense, Drowning is an unforgettable thriller about a family's desperate fight to save themselves and the people trapped with them--against impossible odds.

My Take

Unlike most readers, I have been on a plane when an engine failed. Fortunately we were able to turn around and, after 50 nervous minutes, land safely on the remaining engine.

But in the case of Flight 1421 the engine failure and subsequent explosion was catastrophic.  If you are nervous about flying, you may never want to fly again. but this is also a story about bravery, good training, human nature and the will to survive. The result is a real page turner.

There is a nice twist at the end too.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read

4.9, FALLING

Review: LIAR, Lesley Pearse

  • This edition read as an e-book on Libby through my local library
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B085ZD3K3W
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin (25 June 2020)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 355 pages

Synopsis (publisher

Amelia White didn't expect her career as a reporter to start like this: by finding a young woman's body, just around the corner from her Shepherd's Bush bedsit.

With rumours already spreading about this poor murder victim, she seizes her chance to write the true story.

But when more bodies are found, the police are baffled.

Reporting on the story, Amelia meets witnesses as well as suspects. If she can only work out who the liar among them is, she may be able to stop the murders.

Or might she turn herself into the next victim? . . .

My Take

Lesley Pearse is an accomplished author with over 30 titles in 30 years to her credit.

At the same time, however, as feeling some empathy for Amelia, the central character who discovers a body on a rubbish heap during a strike by London's sanitation collectors, I also found her to be a bit gullible and pliable. She is a little too willing to be thrust into the role of investigative journalist by her exploitative editor. As it is, she is very lucky to have some people on the look out for her welfare.

The story was full of twists and turns, leading us first down one path and then another.

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Lesley Pearse was told as a child that she had too much imagination for her own good. When she grew up she worked her way through a number of jobs, including nanny, bunny girl, dressmaker and full-time mother, before, at the age of forty-nine, settling upon a career that would allow her gifts to blossom: she became a published writer. Lesley lives in Devon and has three daughters and three grandchildren.

Find out more about Lesley and keep up to date with what she's been doing:

Follow her on Twitter @LesleyPearse

Follow her on Facebook @LesleyPearseAuthor

Sign up for her newsletter www.lesleypearse.com

24 December 2023

Review: A DEADLY AFFAIR, Agatha Christie

  • this edition read on Kindle
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ William Morrow Paperbacks (January 4, 2022)
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0063142341
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0063142343

Synopsis (Publisher)

Love can propel us to our greatest heights . . . and darkest depths. In this new collection of Agatha Christie short stories, witness the dark side of love—crimes of passion, games of the heart, and deadly affairs. This pulse-pounding compendium features beloved detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, master of charades Parker Pyne, the enigmatic Harley Quin, and the adventurous Tommy and Tuppence, all at the ready to solve a tantalizing mystery.

In 'The Face of Helen,' a night at the Royal Opera could reach a deadly crescendo for a woman caught in a dicey love triangle; 'Finessing the King' delivers a curious ad in the personals that could mask sinister intentions; who’s in danger of getting stung in 'Wasp’s Nest' depends on rounding up suspects and solving a murder—before it even happens. Those are just a few of the tales in this collection featuring essential reading that Christie fans old and new will simply love.

My Take

An interesting collection of 14 short stories, mostly featuring sleuths that have not been as popular as Poirot and Marple, and mostly written early in the author's career, as shown in the list below.

I found Magnolia Blossom particularly interesting because it was published in the same year as Christie's own disappearance, and could shed some light on her state of mind. Death by Drowning is also interesting for the role played by Miss Marple's doctor.

Affairs of the Heart - from Autobiography
The King of Clubs - Poirot, 1923
The Face of Helen - Mr Quin, 1927
A Death on the Nile - Mr Parker Pyne, 1933
Death by Drowning - Miss Marple, 1931
The Double Clue - Poirot, 1923
Finessing the King - Tommy and Tuppence, 1924
A Fruitful Sunday - standalone, 1928
Wasps' Nest - Poirot, 1928
The Case of the Caretaker - Miss Marple, 1942
The Man in the Mist - Tommy and Tuppence, 1924
The Case of the Rich Woman - Mr Parker Pyne, 1932
Magnolia Blossom - stand alone, 1926
The Love Detectives - Mr Quin, 1926

My rating: 4.5 

Here are the Agatha Christie short stories I have read

23 December 2023

Review: THE UNBELIEVED, Vikki Petraitis

  •  this edition an e-book on Libby made available through my local library
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Allen & Unwin; 1st edition (2 August 2022)
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 384 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1761067397
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1761067396 
  • Winner of the inaugural Allen & Unwin Crime Prize.

Synopsis (publisher)

'So you believed the alleged rapists over the alleged victim?' Jane's voice took on an indignant pitch.
'Girls lie sometimes.'
I nodded.
'And rapists lie all the time.'

When Senior Detective Antigone Pollard moves to the coastal town of Deception Bay, she is still in shock and grief. Back in Melbourne, one of her cases had gone catastrophically wrong, and to escape the guilt and the haunting memories, she'd requested a transfer to the quiet town she'd grown up in.

But there are some things you can't run from. A month into her new life, she is targeted by a would-be rapist at the pub, and realises why there have been no convictions following a spate of similar sexual attacks in the surrounding district. The male witnesses in the pub back her attacker and even her boss doesn't believe her.

Hers is the first reported case in Deception Bay, but soon there are more. As Antigone searches for answers, she encounters a wall of silence in the town built of secrets and denial and fear. The women of Deception Bay are scared and the law is not on their side. The nightmare has followed her home.

Chilling, timely and gripping, The Unbelieved takes us behind the headlines to a small-town world that is all too real - and introduces us to a brilliant new voice in crime fiction.  

My Take

My first outing with Vikki Petraitis, probably not my last, although her usual genre, true crime, is not generally my cup of tea. So I hope she gives Senior Detective Antigone Pollard another outing.

The Prologue describes a situation 10 years earlier when an apparent murder-suicide is discovered. Later this case will serve to show how ill equipped the cops in a small town are to solve such cases, how ready they are to accept the obvious.

Antigone Pollard comes to the town she grew up in to escape a situation in Melbourne that went horribly wrong. Now she has to make herself again, in a town where the young men think they can do whatever they like, spike drinks, rape women, and so on, and never be caught. Even the police station is very male dominated, although Antigone's partner Wozza is a blessing in disguise, mainly because, as the father of 3 daughters, he sees the world differently. Almost on her first night in the town, at the pub, Antigone has her drink spiked, and then is attacked in the car park. When she takes the perpetrator back to the station she finds her version of events questioned by her boss.

Petraitis writes with great assurance. In the view she gives of small town policing, she reminds me very much of Garry Disher.

Another review to read

My rating: 4.8

About the author
https://vikkipetraitis.com.au/
Vikki Petraitis has made a name for herself writing about Australian true crime.
THE UNBELIEVED is her first crime fiction novel 

Vikki Petraitis is best known for her true crime books including the bestselling book The Frankston Murders about serial killer Paul Denyer, and her first book, The Phillip Island Murder, which has been featured in several TV shows and podcasts. In her true crime books, Vikki has covered everything from police dogs to Lawyer X, the Russell Street bombing and sex crimes. Her expertise lies in interviewing police and victims to create compelling narratives. In recent years, Vikki has made two hugely successful podcast series with Casefile Presents, which have topped charts around the world and been downloaded millions of times. She is now working with the Casefile team developing new true crime projects. Vikki began a PhD in Creative Writing at La Trobe University in 2017 in order to continue to expand her writing skills. She brought thirty years of true crime writing and investigating to create her first work of fiction, The Unbelieved. In a parallel career, Vikki is also a teacher with a Master's degree in IT Education. She runs creative writing workshops and short courses in schools and local libraries. She is also a popular presenter, well-known for her compelling true crime talks and keynote addresses.

Review: BETTY BOO, Claudia Pineiro

  • This edition an e-book on  Kindle
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Bitter Lemon Press (February 9, 2016)
  • Miranda France (Translator) 
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 410 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1908524553
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1908524553

Synopsis (publisher)

The fourth novel from Claudia PiƱeiro, South America's best-selling crime novelist.

When a renowned Buenos Aires industrialist is found dead at his home in an exclusive gated community called La Maravillosa, the novelist Nurit Iscar (once nicknamed Betty Boo owing to a resemblance to the cartoon character Betty Boop) is contracted by a former lover, the editor of a national newspaper, to cover the story. Nurit teams up with the paper's veteran, but now demoted, crime reporter. Soon they realize that they are falling in love, which complicates matters deliciously.

The murder is no random crime but one in a series that goes to the heart of the establishment. Five members of the Argentine industrial and political elite, who all went to the same boarding-school, have died in apparently innocent circumstances. The Maravillosa murder is just the last in the series and those in power in Argentina are not about to allow all this brought to light. Too much is at stake.

My Take

This novel comes as a reminder of how much translated crime fiction has fallen off my radar in recent years, and also what a different flavour this author in particular brings.

The Crime writer of the national newspaper covering this murder in a gated community is a fairly new appointment, inexperienced, and is referred to as Crime Boy. His editor decides to provide a different slant to the case by installing a novelist, a former lover, in the gated community, to write a series of articles about the life that the murder victim was leading. These articles will be published simultaneously with whatever Crime Boy can provide.  The victim's wife had been murdered in the same house three years earlier, but apart from the way she was murdered, was there any connection? 

In addition the newspaper is still employing its former crime writer, on what he regards as fairly useless tasks, and he decides, against his better judgement, that Crime Boy needs tutelage.  Between them, with Betty Boo, the three of them make a formidable team.

A most enjoyable read.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read

19 December 2023

Review: A DISAPPEARANCE IN FIJI, Nilima Rao

  • This edition read as an e-book on my Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BDDT1RHZ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Soho Crime (June 6, 2023)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 289 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 1641294299

Synopsis (Amazon)

 A charming and atmospheric debut mystery featuring a 25-year-old Indian police sergeant investigating a missing persons case in colonial Fiji

1914, Fiji: Akal Singh, 25, would rather be anywhere but this tropical paradise—or, as he calls it, “this godforsaken island.” After a promising start to his police career in Hong Kong, Akal has been sent to Fiji as punishment for a humiliating professional mistake. Lonely and grumpy, Akal plods through his work and dreams of getting back to Hong Kong or his native India.

When an indentured Indian woman goes missing from a sugarcane plantation and Fiji’s newspapers scream “kidnapping,” the inspector-general reluctantly assigns Akal the case. Akal, eager to achieve redemption, agrees—but soon finds himself far more invested than he could have expected.

Now not only is he investigating a disappearance, but also confronting the brutal realities of the indentured workers’ existence and the racism of the British colonizers in Fiji—along with his own thorny notions of personhood and caste. Early interrogations of the white plantation owners, Indian indentured laborers, and native Fijians yield only one conclusion: there is far more to this case than meets the eye.

Nilima Rao’s sparkling debut mystery offers an unflinching look at the evils of colonialism, even as it brims with wit, vibrant characters, and fascinating historical detail. 

My Take

Set in colonial Fiji in 1914, this mystery novel takes readers to a time and setting with which most of us are not familiar, but the author certainly is.

An indentured Indian woman goes missing, and a local priest brings the attention of the newspapers to what he calls a kidnapping. Newly arrived from Hong Kong, Sergeant Akal Singh is already in trouble with his boss who reluctantly sets him to investigate the case. The last thing the Inspector wants is for the kidnapping claim to be true, and for his world to be rocked with scandal. 

A very readable first novel.

My rating: 4.4

About the author

Nilima Rao is a Fijian Indian Australian who has always referred to herself as “culturally confused”. She has since learned that we are all confused in some way and now feels better about the whole thing. When she isn’t writing, Nilima can be found wrangling data (the dreaded day job) or wandering around Melbourne laneways in search of the next new wine bar.

18 December 2023

Review: FALLING, T.J. Newman

  • This edition made available as an e-book on Libby by my local library
  • ISBN: 9781398507289
  • ISBN-10: 1398507288
  • Number Of Pages: 368
  • Published: 15th June 2022, Simon & Schuster UK

Synopsis (publisher

You just boarded a flight to New York.

There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.

What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.

For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die.

The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.

Enjoy the flight.

My Take

This was a real page turner, and the reader is kept in suspense, working out how the story will turn out.

There are elements that you've seen in other real-life stories but also some carefully thought through good-feel moments.

Highly recommended.

My rating: 4.9

About the Author

T. J. Newman, a former bookseller turned flight attendant, worked for Virgin America and Alaska Airlines from 2011 to 2021. She wrote much of Falling on cross-country red-eye flights while her passengers were asleep. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Falling is her first novel.

Review: RIPPER, Shelley Burr

Synopsis (publisher)

Gemma Guillory has lived in Rainier her entire life. She knows the tiny town's ins and outs like the back of her hand, the people like they are her family, their quirks as if they were her own.

She knows her once-charming town is now remembered for one reason, and one reason only. That three innocent people died. That the last stop on the Rainier Ripper's trail of death seventeen years ago was her innocuous little teashop. She knows that the consequences of catching the Ripper still haunt her police officer husband and their marriage to this day and that some of her neighbours are desperate - desperate enough to welcome a dark tourism company keen to cash in on Rainier's reputation as the murder town.

When the tour operator is killed by a Ripper copycat on Gemma's doorstep, the unease that has lurked quietly in the original killer's wake turns to foreboding, and she's drawn into the investigation. Unbeknownst to her, so is a prisoner named Lane Holland. Gemma knows her town. She knows her people. Doesn't she?

My Take

The outback town of Rainer has been dying for 17 years, ever since a killer, nicknamed The Ripper, put it on the map by murdering 3 of its residents. Since then the highway has by-passed the town and businesses have dwindled. Gemma is in an uneasy marriage with one of the town's policemen, and is the mother of a teenage daughter.

Now a tourism operator has held out a helping hand and is offering to run a macabre tour based on the events 17 years ago. The families affected are meeting together to agree to the tour. But while they are talking, the tourism operator himself is murdered, his body left in the fountain where the first murder took place.

There are lots of little twists in the plot as Gemma tries to find out who has committed the murder. The reader has a lot to do in working out the little secrets, who is married to who, whose children are whose and so on, but I found the narrative disjointed. The problem was exacerbated by the addition of external plot strands, particularly the decision to interview the original Ripper.

My rating: 4.5 

I've also read 4.8, WAKE

17 December 2023

Review: JUST MY LUCK, Adele Parks

  • this edition made available as an e-book on Borrow Box through my local library
  • Harper Collins Australia
  • ISBN: 9780008318420
  • ISBN 10: 0008318425
  • Imprint: HQ Fiction GB
  • On Sale: 04/05/2020
  • Pages: 384

Synopsis (publisher

For fifteen years, Lexi and Jake have played the same six numbers with their friends, the Pearsons and the Heathcotes. Over dinner parties, fish & chip suppers and summer barbecues, they’ve discussed the important stuff – the kids, marriages, jobs and houses – and they’ve laughed off their disappointment when they failed to win anything more than a tenner.

But then, one Saturday night, the unthinkable happens. There’s a rift in the group. Someone doesn’t tell the truth. And soon after, six numbers come up which change everything forever.

Lexi and Jake have a ticket worth £18 million. And their friends are determined to claim a share of it.
 
Sunday Times Number One bestseller Adele Parks returns with a riveting look at the dark side of wealth in this gripping take on friendship, money and betrayal, and good luck gone bad…

My Take

Most of us have fleetingly thought about this scenario. What would we do if we won the lottery? How would we behave? What if we were in a syndicate? You probably wouldn't keep your cool too well.

Lexi loves her job so much that she has never considered she would stop working, yet for Jake that is the first thing he thinks of. He and the kids go on a spending spree. They plan a huge party, but Lexi keeps thinking about how she can help others. But winning the lottery can bring out the worst in people too, and Lexi just has not envisaged what her husband and her friends will do.

My rating: 4.8

About the author

Adele Parks MBE was born in North Yorkshire. She is the author of 21 bestselling novels including most recently the Sunday Times and ebook Number One bestseller Both of You. Adele's recent Number One bestsellers Lies Lies Lies and Just My Luck were shortlisted for the British Book Awards and have been optioned for development for TV. Adele has lived in Botswana, Italy and London and is now settled in Guildford, Surrey. In 2022 she was awarded an MBE for services to literature. Find Adele on Twitter @adeleparks, Instagram @adele_parks and Facebook @OfficialAdeleParks or visit www.adeleparks.com.

Review: THE DOCKLAND MURDER, Mike Hollow

  •  this edition an e-book on Kindle
  • #5 Blitz Detective series
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08GNZ582J
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Allison & Busby (March 19, 2021)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 440 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 036937889X

Synopsis (publisher)

In the depths of the blackout, the silence of London's Royal Albert Dock is broken only by the lap of inky water against the quay and the occasional scurrying of rats' feet. A patrolling policeman is passing the newly arrived freighter SS Magnolia when something catches his eye. A man is sprawled awkwardly across a nearby barge - with an exotic-looking dagger in his back.

DI Jago of West Ham CID discovers the victim was a dock worker by day and a Home Guard volunteer by night - and there are things even his wife, bombed out of their flimsy home in Silvertown, doesn't know about his past. Who wanted to kill him? As Jago investigates, he uncovers a widening circle of secrets ranging across family tensions, the last war, and a far-flung corner of the British Empire. And then there's the mysterious spate of thefts from the dock to contend with. 

My Take

This series is set in the Blitz in LOndon, various locations, beginning in September 1940.

One of the things that I am enjoying with this series is the wide ranging plots strands and the extra information given to us about characters and their background.

These details add to the feeling of historical authenticity.

Highly recommended.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read

Review: THE STRATFORD MURDER, Mike Hollow

  •  Book 4 of 8: Blitz Detective
  • First published as FIRING LINE.2018
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Allison & Busby (December 10, 2020)
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0749026030
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0749026035

Synopsis (Amazon)

October, 1940. Bombs are falling on Stratford when air-raid warden Sylvia Parks sees a house with a shining light, in clear breach of the city’s strict blackout rules. With no answer at the door she manages to break in, only to discover the body of a young woman, strangled to death with a stocking. For Detective Inspector John Jago, the scene brings back memories of the gruesome Soho Strangler, who murdered four women a few years ago but has never been caught – could there be a connection?

My Take

I'm very much enjoying this series, reading them as e-books on my Kindle. The characters are well drawn, the scenarios feel authentic, and each book leaves you looking forward to the next.

In this case a young woman is found during a blackout strangled in her home. She works as a cinema usher, but  there seems some possibility that she may be earning extra money by entertaining men in her home.

My Rating: 4.5

I've also read

7 December 2023

Review: A LESSON IN MALICE, Catherine Kirwan

  • this edition from my local library
  • published by HACHETTE BOOKS Ireland 2023
  • ISBN 978-1-5293-8143-6
  • 456 pages

Synopsis (Publisher)

She said yes to a dinner invitation. Now she's a murder suspect ...

A visit to her old university takes an unexpected turn for solicitor Finn Fitzpatrick when she receives an exclusive invitation. She is far from high profile on the legal scene, so why is she on the guestlist for a select gathering in the College president's private dining room?

Three days later, a body is discovered on College grounds. And, as the police launch their hunt for the killer, everyone who was dinner that night falls under suspicion. Including Finn.

Soon, she's investigating the murder, unearthing the bitter rivalries and hidden agendas lurking beneath the success of her fellow dinner guests. As the mysteries and revelations pile up, Finn finds herself keeping secrets from those around her - but at what cost? 

My Take

This is the second novel featuring Cork solicitor Finn Fitzpatrick.

It seems that the high profile speaker from Australia, a graduate originally from Cork University, with a reputation for womanising, came to the conference intending to speak to Finn. But circumstances got in the way and they never had a chance to talk and now he is dead. Finn has not been able to work out why she was invited to speak anyway, but now she finds herself as the liaison between the university and the police. 

And then some unexpected news results in her being arrested and investigated.

I obviously didn't find the book as captivating as some of those whose blurbs appear on the cover. Nevertheless it took me into a world and a setting with which I was not familiar.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Catherine Kirwan grew up in the parish of Fews, County Waterford. She studied law at University College Cork and she now lives in Cork City where she works as a solicitor.
This is her second novel

1 December 2023

Review, SLEEPING MURDER, Agatha Christie

  • This edition read on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B004BDOTLS
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins; Masterpiece Ed edition (October 14, 2010)
  • Originally published 1976 (Miss Marple's last case, written about 35 years earlier)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 257 pages 
  • My earlier review 

Synopsis (Amazon

A strange house
A ghost from the past

As soon as she moves into Hillside, Gwenda knows there’s something strange about this house.

A sealed room. A hidden door. The apparition of a young woman being strangled.

But strangest of all – this all seems quite familiar.

As her friend Jane Marple investigates, the answer seems to lie in a crime committed nearly twenty years ago.

The killer may have gotten away with murder. But Miss Marple is never far behind.

Never underestimate Miss Marple

My Take

I have of course read this earlier, but have re-read it for discussion with my U3A Agatha Christie Reading group.  I think they will enjoy the read. I think this is one of the best Marple stories.

Despite the advice not to investigate Gwenda and her husband decide try to work out what Gwenda's vague memories of the house she has recently bought actually mean. 

I particularly liked the description of Miss Marple.
Miss Marple was an attractive old lady, tall and thin, with pink cheeks and blue eyes, and a gentle, rather fussy manner. Her blue eyes often had a little twinkle in them.

There are no signs that this was actually written during World War II and stored for later publication. Certainly no signs that it was meant to be Miss Marple's last case.

My rating: 4.7

My Agatha Christie book reviews

Review: THE BREAKDOWN, B.A.Paris

  • This edition made available as an e-book on Libby by my local library
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ St. Martin's Press (18 July 2017)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1250122465
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1250122469

Synopsis (Amazon)

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods. It was on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, and a woman was sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm, and she probably would have been hurt herself if she’d stopped. Not only that, her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing. Where she left the car; if she took her pills; even the alarm code.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

And the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

My Take

Cass Anderson is haunted that her mother suffered from early onset dementia and is worried that she is going the same way. She seems to forget so much: online shopping that she's done, arrangements inviting people to a meal, her purse when she goes shopping, where she parked her car, and so much more.

She is lucky her husband and her best friend are so supportive isn't she? But then she visits a doctor who puts her on pills, and instead of getting better, she seems to be getting worse.

And then there is the murder of the woman in the car, and Cass is worried that the murderer is stalking her.

A nailbiter of a book, with a resolution you won't expect. 

This is another author to watch.

My rating: 4.6 

I've also read

Review: THE CUSTOM HOUSE MURDER, Mike Hollow

  •  This edition read on my Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B088WPHCS7
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Allison & Busby (December 10, 2020)
  • AKA ENEMY ACTION, published 2017
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 450 pages 
  • #3 in the Blitz Detective series

Synopsis  (Amazon)

September, 1940. With London having endured the Blitz for nearly a month, people are calling for vengeance, but once again the night heralds more destruction. 

In Custom House, anxious residents dutifully head to the nearest public air-raid shelter as the warning siren wails.

When dawn brings the all-clear, people disperse, but one man remains - he is dead, stabbed through the heart. Detective Inspector John Jago discovers that the victim was a pacifist. But why, then, was he carrying a loaded revolver in his pocket?

My Take

There are several aspects of this series that I am enjoying: the historical setting that appears to be well researched; the credible plots; the well fleshed characters, and the side stories involving these characters.

This really is a series which needs to be read from the beginning, well worth the effort.

My rating: 4.5

I've already read

 


 

 

Review: JUST ANOTHER MISSING PERSON, Gillian McAllister

  • this edition provided by my local library
  • Harper Large print published August 2023
  • 496 pages
  • ISBN 9-780063-322899

 Synopsis (Publisher)

From the author of the Reese's Book Club Pick and the New York Times bestseller Wrong Place Wrong Time comes a new heart-stopping thriller in which a missing-person case unravels deeper, darker secrets that lead a detective to an impossible moral choice.

Not everyone who is lost should be found...

Twenty-two-year-old Olivia has been missing for one day...and counting. She was last seen on CCTV, entering a dead-end alley. And not coming back out again.

Julia, the detective heading up the search for Olivia, thinks she knows what to expect. A desperate family, a ticking clock, and long hours away from her husband and daughter. But she has no idea just how close to home this case is going to get.

Because the criminal at the heart of the disappearance has something she never expected. His weapon isn't a gun, or a knife: it's a secret. Her worst one. And her family's safety depends on one thing: Julia must NOT find out what happened to Olivia - and must frame somebody else for her murder.

If you find her, you will lose everything. What would you do?

This clever and endlessly surprising thriller is laced with a clever look at family and motherhood, and cements Gillian McAllister as a major talent in the world of suspense and a master of creating ethical dilemmas that show just how murky the distinction between right and wrong can be.

My Take

Julia is a detective who does everything by the books, dots the i's and crosses the t's, always. But in her past lies a mistake just waiting to trip her up.

Missing persons is her speciality and the case of Olivia seems much like any other. But is it? She is captured on CCTV walking into a dead end alley, and then she disappears. No trace, no blood. Nothing.  As the days count down, no clues, except something that a masked man gives Julia.

There are a lot of surprises in this plot.

There are a number of new authors around this year. Here is another to watch, and catch up on.

My rating: 4.5 

About the Author

Gillian McAllister is the New York Times bestselling author of Reese's Book Club Pick Wrong Place Wrong Time, Just Another Missing Person, Everything but the Truth, The Choice, The Good Sister, The Evidence Against You, How to Disappear, and the Richard & Judy Book Club pick That Night. She graduated with an English degree before working as a lawyer. She lives in Birmingham, England, where she now writes full-time. She is also the creator and co-host of the popular Honest Authors podcast.

25 November 2023

Review: TREASURE & DIRT, Chris Hammer

  • this edition read as an e-book on my Kindle (Amazon)
  • aka OPAL COUNTRY
  • Imprint:Allen & UnwiN
  • Pub Date:30 Aug 2022
  • Page Extent:536

Synopsis (Publisher)

An unputdownable standalone thriller from the bestselling author of Scrublands.
In the desolate outback town of Finnigans Gap, police struggle to maintain law and order. Thieves pillage opal mines, religious fanatics recruit vulnerable young people and billionaires do as they please.

Then an opal miner is found crucified and left to rot down his mine. Nothing about the miner's death is straightforward, not even who found the body. Sydney homicide detective Ivan Lucic is sent to investigate, assisted by inexperienced young investigator Nell Buchanan.

But Finnigans Gap has already ended one police career and damaged others, and soon both officers face damning allegations and internal investigations. Have Ivan and Nell been set up and, if so, by whom?

As time runs out, their only chance at redemption is to find the killer. But the more secrets they uncover, the more harrowing the mystery becomes, as events from years ago take on a startling new significance.

For in Finnigans Gap, opals, bodies and secrets don't stay buried forever. 

My Take

I have already reviewed this book, but have re-read it for a discussion with my U3A Crime Fiction readers group.

I must confess that I began reading it as a printed paperback but swapped over about halfway through to a copy that I already had on my Kindle.

Last time I wrote "A book with many themes, a very harsh environment, where the miners themselves struggle to make a living, and a virtual pageant of quirky characters." and I was struck again by the fact that, while there is the central plot of the crucified opal miner, there are a large number of mini plots.  It is also a novel where the Australian outback setting plays a strong role.

If you are looking for something that has strong Australian flavour, then this is it.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read


19 November 2023

120 books today

 A milestone today. 

120 books read for my 2023 Good Reads Challenge.



Review: THE THERAPIST, B. A. Paris

  • this edition provided as an e-book on Libby by my local library
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ HQ; International Edition (January 1, 2021
  • Length ‏ : ‎ 362 pages 

Synopsis (Amazon)

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating, grisly secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbours are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…

The million-copy Sunday Times bestselling author B A Paris returns to her heartland of gripping psychological suspense in this powerful tale of a house that holds a shocking secret.

My Take

Alice is sure that she has been totally honest with Leo, kept nothing back from him; after all, she is convinced she wants to spend the rest of her life with him. But then she finds that he hasn't been totally honest with her. He has tried to keep something back, hoping she won't find out, or at least, if she does find out, she will get over it quickly.

This novel turned out to be a real page turner. To me Alice seemed a bit neurotic, but then we find that although she has been honest with Leo, she has a big secret that the reader is not privy to. Also her need to know what happened two years before makes her suspect everyone, and blindsides her to the real truth.

A good read. I must read more by this author.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read

4.5, BRING ME BACK  

16 November 2023

Review: RETURN TO VALETTO, Dominic Smith

  •  this edition published in2923 by Allen and Unwin
  • ISBN 978-1-76106-727-3
  • 358  pages 

Synopsis (publisher)

A captivating and moving new novel from the international bestselling author of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos.
A nearly abandoned Italian village, the family that stayed, and long-buried secrets from World War II.

On a hilltop in Umbria sits Valetto. Once a thriving village-and a hub of resistance and refuge during World War II-centuries of earthquakes, landslides and the lure of a better life have left it neglected. Only ten residents remain, including the widows Serafino - three eccentric sisters and their steely centenarian mother - who live quietly in their medieval villa. Then their nephew and grandson, Hugh, a historian, returns.

But someone else has arrived before him, laying claim to the cottage where Hugh spent his childhood summers. The unwelcome guest is the captivating and no-nonsense Elisa Tomassi, who asserts that the family patriarch, Aldo Serafino, a resistance fighter whom her own family harboured, gave the cottage to them in gratitude. Like so many threads of history, this revelation unravels a secret - a betrayal, a disappearance and an unspeakable act of violence - that has impacted Valetto across generations. Who will answer for the crimes of the past?

Dominic Smith's Return to Valetto is a riveting journey into one family's long-buried story, a page-turning excavation of the ruins of history and our commitment to justice in a fragile world. For fans of Amor Towles, Anthony Doerr and Jess Walter, it is a deeply human and transporting testament to the possibility of love and understanding across gaps of all kinds - even time.

My Take

An unusual novel about justice and retribution. Two young girls abducted by a fascist in their town, disappeared for 3 days, interrogated by him for family secrets, and never recovered from their experience.

A 100 year birthday party becomes an opportunity for the Serafino family to seek an apology from the fascist.

One of those books that is only partly only crime fiction, but rich in cultural history for we outsiders who know so little about Italian history.

My rating: 4.4

About the author

Dominic Smith is the author of six novels, including The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, which was a New York Times bestseller and a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, and a best book of the year at Amazon, Slate, the San Francisco Chronicle and Kirkus Reviews. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Texas Monthly, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times and The Australian, among other publications. He grew up in Sydney, Australia and now lives in Seattle, Washington. 

12 November 2023

Review: THE CANNING TOWN MURDER, Mike Hollow

  • This edition on Kindle from Amazon
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B088WS4B88
  • first published 2016 as FIFTH COLUMN
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Allison & Busby; Reprint edition (July 23, 2020)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 464 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 0369358198
  • #2 in THE BLITZ DETECTIVE series

Synopsis (Amazon

First Published as Fifth Column.
September, 1940. As the Blitz takes its nightly toll on London and Hitler prepares his invasion fleet just across the Channel in occupied France, Britain is full of talk about enemy agents. Suspicion is at an all time high and no one is sure who can be trusted.
In Canning Town, rescue workers are unsettled when they return to a damaged street and discover a body that shouldn't be there. When closer examination of the corpse reveals death by strangling, Detective Inspector John Jago is called upon to investigate. But few seem to really care about the woman's death - not even her family. As Jago digs deeper he starts to uncover a trail of deception, betrayal, and romantic entanglements.

My Take

Well, this series has me hooked and I'll be reading more. The setting is well researched and authentic, and the characters are likeable.

In this case a female body is found on top of the ruins of a bomb site but it hadn't been there two hours earlier. The woman is identified as working in local premises that deal with the some sensitive projects. The pathologist confirms that she has been murdered.

Inspector Jago finds other things are going on  and he is not sure that everyone is acting honestly, nor that everyone is just who they say they are.

Interesting plot.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read

4.5, THE BLITZ DETECTIVE - #1

6 November 2023

Review: HOME BEFORE NIGHT, J. P. Pomare

Synopsis (publisher)

Mother's intuition or a deadly guilty conscience? A woman races against time to find her son in this tense and twisty thriller by the Top Ten bestselling author of THE WRONG WOMAN.

As the third wave of the virus hits, all inhabitants of Melbourne are given until 8 pm to get to their homes. Wherever they are when the curfew begins, they must live for four weeks and stay within five kilometres of. When Lou's son, Samuel, doesn't arrive home by nightfall, she begins to panic.

He doesn't answer his phone. He doesn't message. His social media channels are inactive. Lou is out of her mind with worry, but she can't go to the police, because she has secrets of her own. Secrets that Samuel just can't find out about. Lou must find her son herself and bring him home.

Includes an exclusive extract of the next J. P. Pomare thriller, Seventeen Years Later, publishing in 2024.

My Take

This is the second novel that I've read set in Covid-19 in Australia (TRACED, Catherine Jinks). Few overseas readers will realise how Draconian the measures were that were taken here in the name of "keeping us safe."

When Samuel doesn't get home by the time lockdown hits, his mother worries about where he is. Citizens can't just come and go as they like. The police are keeping a look out for law breakers, and there are heavy financial penalties.

When Samuel finally gets in touch to say he is staying at his girlfriend's his mother thinks that there are things that just don't add up. Thinking back over his recent behaviour she worries that he has found out something she has kept from him all of his life. The reader already knows what that secret is, but there is something that is far worse.

But the way this comes to light makes you wonder if Lou really thought she could get away with it.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read

5 November 2023

Review: THE BLITZ DETECTIVE, Mike Hollow

  •  this edition published for Kindle on Amazon
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B088WPQYLS
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Allison & Busby; Reissue edition (July 23, 2020)
  • first published 201
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 448 pages 
  • #1 of 8
  • first published as DIRECT HIT

Synopsis (Amazon)

First published as Direct Hit.


Saturday 7th September, 1940. The sun is shining, and in the midst of the good weather Londoners could be mistaken for forgetting their country was at war - until the familiar wail of the air-raid sirens heralds an enemy attack. The Blitz has started, and normal life has abruptly ended - but crime has not.
That night a man's body is discovered in an unmarked van in the back streets of West Ham. When Detective Inspector John Jago is called to the scene, he recognises the victim: local Justice of the Peace, Charles Villiers. The death looks suspicious, but then a German bomb obliterates all evidence. War or no war, murder is still murder, and it's Jago's job to find the truth.

(Please note Direct Hit, Fifth Column, Enemy Action and Firing Line were republished in 2020 as The Blitz Detective, The Canning Town Murder, The Custom House Murder and The Stratford Murder respectively. See www.blitzdetective.com)

My Take

This is the first in an interesting looking crime fiction series set in London at the beginning of the Blitz, the bombing raids by the Luftwaffe in September 1940.

Like every other service, the police detectives in London have been severely depleted by the demands of the army, navy and airforce. Detective Inspector John Jago is a survivor of World War One and should be looking at retirement rather than leading an active unit. His sergeant has been promoted from the uniforms probably well ahead of his time and is not yet familiar with procedures.

This story raises a number of questions of morality and the role of policing when the country is under attack from the enemy. What is the value of tracking down a murderer locally, or corruption, when so much chaos reigns?

Has the makings of a good series.

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Mike Hollow was born in West Ham and grew up in Romford, Essex. He studied Russian and French at Magdalene College, Cambridge, and then worked for the BBC and later Tearfund. In 2002 he went freelance as a copywriter, journalist, editor and translator, but now gives all his time to writing the Blitz Detective books.

(Please note Direct Hit, Fifth Column, Enemy Action and Firing Line were republished in 2020 as The Blitz Detective, The Canning Town Murder, The Custom House Murder and The Stratford Murder respectively. See www.blitzdetective.com)

3 November 2023

Review: THE SEVEN, Chris Hammer

  •  this edition made available to me as an e-book on Libby through my local library
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Allen & Unwin (3 October 2023)
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 512 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1761067427
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1761067426
  • aka COVER THE BONES 
  • Detective Nell Buchanan #3

Synopsis (distributor)

Fantastic Fiction

A body has washed up in an irrigation canal, the artery running through Yuwonderie, a man-made paradise on the border of the Outback. Stabbed through the heart, electrocuted and dumped under cover of night, there is no doubt that detectives Ivan Lucic and Nell Buchanan are dealing with a vicious homicide.

The victim is Athol Hasluck, member of one of the seven dynasties who have controlled every slice of bountiful land in this modern-day Eden for generations.

But this is not an isolated incident. Someone is targeting the landed aristocracy of this quiet paradise in the desert. Secrets stretching back decades are rising to the surface at last - but the question remains, who stands to gain most from their demise?

Can Ivan and Nell track down a killer before the guilt at the heart of these seven families takes the entire town down with it?

Amazon
The latest stunning thriller from the bestselling author of Scrublands and The Tilt.

Yuwonderie's seven founding families have lorded it over their district for a century, growing ever more rich and powerful.

But now—in startling circumstances—one of their own is found dead in a ditch and homicide detectives Ivan Lucic and Nell Buchanan are sent to investigate.

Could the murder be connected to the execution of the victim's friend thirty years ago—another member of The Seven—or even to the long-forgotten story of a servant girl on the brink of the Great War?

What are the secrets The Seven are so desperate to keep hidden?

With the killer still on the loose and events spiralling out of control, the closer Ivan and Nell get to discovering the truth, the more dangerous their investigation becomes. Can they crack the case before more people die?

The Seven is a compelling thriller filled with intrigue, emotional depth and an evocative sense of place—where nothing is ever quite what it seems. Chris Hammer, the acclaimed and bestselling author of the international bestsellers Scrublands, Treasure & Dirt and The Tilt, can take his place among the world's finest crime writers. 

My Take

Three main time frames, 1913 just before the outbreak of World War One, 1934, and December 2022?

In the first Bessie Walker, part aboriginal girl, newly arrived to work at Three Wells Station begins the first of many letters to her mother. In the most recent time frame, Sergeant Ivan Lucic and Detective Constable Nell Buchanan have arrived at Yuwonderie to investigate the murder of local accountant Athol Hasluck, a lowly member of one of the founding families, The Seven. The district is the local fiefdom of MP Otto Titchfield, Federal member for Family First. Otto is also a member of The Seven.

In 1994 one of the heirs to The Seven and his girlfriend disappeared.

Underlying everything in this story is the importance of water and water rights, and everything the seven families (originally more) have done to control the rights to the water. For over 100 years, since the setting up of the local irrigation scheme, the heads of the seven families have done what has been needed to maintain their positions of privelege. And in the 21st century nothing has changed.

This is a demanding read, the reader having to keep their wits abut them and to remember details, names of characters, and connections. It is also the story of corruption, scams, the vulnerability of those who think they are invulnerable, and the burdens of living with "the dry".

For those who wondered what happened to him, Harley Snouch makes a reappearance. 

for those who make it through to the end, a twist you won't see coming.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read

1 November 2023

Review: TRACED, Catherine Jinks

Synopsis (publisher)

Jane is a contact tracer. She has to call a lot of people and some of them don’t want to talk. Various reasons – tax or immigration issues, infidelity. Domestic abuse.

Jane knows all about that. She and her daughter Tara have spent years in hiding from Tara’s manipulative and terrifying ex. Now, as Jane talks to a close contact, she realises the woman on the phone is scared of the same man – and he’s close. Too close.

Suddenly the past comes slamming back into the present as Jane realises she and Tara can’t keep running forever.

One day, they’re going to be found.

My Take

Jane is a Covid-19 contact tracer, one of those trying to prevent the virus becoming endemic in Australia. So far her work has preserved her anonymity, but then she comes across a victim of domestic violence who gives Jane enough clues as to the identity of her perpetrator, and to her horror, Jane knows him!

A very engrossing read.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read

Review: THE CORTADO CLUB, G. R. Jordan

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09NL676CT
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Carpetless Publishing (February 20, 2022)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ February 20, 2022
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 224 pages
  • #17 in the Highlands and Islands Detective Thrillers

Synopsis (Publisher)

An established coffee house with a reputation for excellence. A rapid surge in customers dying with froth on their lips. Can Macleod and McGrath discover the link between the clientele before the last cup is drunk?

When Macleod is called back to his Isle of Lewis roots, he finds the most sedate murders he has ever known. But for all the quietness and beauty in the method of dispatch, an evil seeks to destroy the community. With a subtlety Macleod finds hard to expose, the killer follows their path of perfect destruction. Can the Inspector thwart his most taxing nemesis yet?

Why take two shots when one will do? 

My Take

Set on MacLeod's home island of Lewis. Who is being targetted with these strange coffee cup poisonings?

Another in this series with an interesting plot and some interesting things to say about human relationships. Rewarding reads especially if you read them in order.

My rating: 4.5 

I've also read

Review: WHEN JUSTICE FAILS, G.R. Jordan

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Carpetless Publishing (31 October 2021)- Amazon
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 244 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1914073606
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1914073601
  • #16 in the Highlands and Islands Detective Thrillers

Synopsis (publisher)

A disturbed grave and a switched corpse. A new TV show and a quest for the truth. Can Macleod and McGrath bring an increasingly popular vigilante to justice before mob rule takes over?

When the first episodes of a new programme coincide with the discovery of corpse switching, Macleod believes the gaudy production is merely fuelling high jinks from a disaffected community. But when the presenter becomes a spokesperson for the lack of justice, the Inspector finds his casebook increases with previously thought innocent suspects. Can the team discover the connection between the weekly show and the spate of new killings before a growing clamour for justice becomes the prelude to kangaroo courts?

Make way for the public's arbiter of justice!

My Take

This story is set in Inverness. MacLeod's partner Jane is watching a new TV reality show - titled Where Justice Fails. The general idea is that there are crimes where the wrong person has been blamed, and a murderer is still at large. The television producers really want to prove that the police are incompetent.

The series begins with a disturbed grave, the former occupant disinterred and taken away, and a new body sitting on top of the grave. A sticker has been left on the side of the coffin, showing Lady Justice within a red circle with a bar across it.

I love the way this series comes up with interesting cases, at the same time as exploring the relationships between team members and incorporating new people in the team.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read

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